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TikTok Business Leadership Momentum

Cannes x TikTok: what motivates the new partnership?

By Samantha Kamiel, Senior digital strategist

Momentum Worldwide


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April 18, 2022 | 6 min read

Sometimes-surprising partnerships between media and consumer brands have been big news in the last couple of years. For The Drum’s Digital Advertising Deep Dive, Samantha Kamiel, senior digital strategist at Momentum Worldwide, Canada looks into the industry’s next big collab: TikTok x Cannes.

Momentum Worldwide on how TikTok has got you covered this Cannes Lions.

Momentum Worldwide on how TikTok has got you covered this Cannes Film Festival

Crisp red carpets, Hollywood’s best-dressed and a Riviera beach sunset. Each year Cannes sets the stage for film debuts.

In 2018, the French association famously banned selfies from the red carpet, eliminating candid connections between stars and viewers. But with a new partnership in 2022, TikTok is bringing back backstage access to Cannes.

With 1.1 billion users globally and eight new users joining every second, to say TikTok is growing rapidly would be an understatement. Positioning itself as an “entertainment that connects” platform, TikTok has become the fastest-growing social media network ever. The TikTok x Cannes Film Festival partnership is a better match than Bennifer 2.0.

TikTok’s algorithm, which focuses on interest-first content (v followers), provides global reach for the European festival. And for TikTok, Cannes’s storied reputation in the film industry allows TikTok to showcase the creators made on-platform while speaking to culture-creating moments.

Along with the partnership, TikTok will perpetuate its reputation of supporting up-and-coming creators with the launch of #TikTokShortFilm, a global competition to inspire creativity and support emerging talent that has already reached 1.4bn views. These partnerships keep users on the platform by connecting them to culturally-relevant moments, and ultimately drive interest within niche internet communities.

Expansions in exclusivity

“Exclusive media rights are nothing new,” says my colleague Jared Wall, Momentum Worldwide’s director of sponsorship consulting. “We’re seeing fiercely-contested, 10-figure battles for media rights for properties such as the English Premier League. However, we’re not used to seeing social dive into this space. With social, the next generation of these battles is the fight for content that drives consumer retention and loyalty.”

What’s exciting here is the expansion of exclusivity into the social space. It’s not just Pepsi bringing you the Super Bowl Halftime Show; becoming an exclusive social partner means groundbreaking content. An all-access pass to unscripted moments brings a VIP experience that can be shared live, with millions of active users. To sweeten the deal, exclusive rights (without competitor interference) allow TikTok to showcase itself as a cultural trendsetter.

We’re sensing a trend, as other social platforms seek out partnerships for exclusive co-experiences. On March 29 2022, sports and fitness tracking app Strava announced an official multi-year deal with Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. This brought the largest sports community into the world’s most iconic cycling events. As part of the collaboration, Strava is creating a content hub dedicated to telling the story of the athletes through their daily activity uploads and photos.

Social access

Why are platforms so keen on providing exclusive access to their users? For social platforms, their end-users are the most important point of contact. 65% of TikTok users solely watch other people’s content (Globalwebindex, 2019). Without viewership, there would be no need for creators, content or (the money maker) ads. If they’re staying on the platform, users expect one thing: access to content that can’t be found elsewhere.

These partnerships play into that expectation. Social is unfiltered and published in real-time. Although the paparazzi may get shots of the best-dressed, they’re not getting the instantly meme-able interaction where Lady Gaga tells Caitlyn Jenner she’s switched baristas (which received 1.8m views in 48 hours). Anyone with a phone can become a creator, so a 10-second video could turn into the internet’s latest viral sensation with the push of a button. Consumers are no longer satiated by online coverage or reading about an event the next day. They want to be part of it.

“Our creator-consumer audiences are not satisfied with just consuming content,” says another colleague of mine, Linda Xiao, director of digital experience design strategy. “By turning their own commentary into content, they can create resonance and allow the moment to live on. And you always want this interactivity and immersion to happen at all levels of distribution so that your brand becomes a facilitator for social buzz, not just the megaphone.”

Through this partnership, TikTok is making a play to emphasize its platform and positioning (lightweight video aesthetic) to show behind-the-scenes and real moments at events. Exclusive partnerships paired with the right technology deliver what audiences want: unfiltered event experiences that users feel they are a part of.

Being the go-to platform to participate in major cultural moments means increasing time spent on the platform and, with exclusivity, platforms are ensuring those conversations start in-app. So, if you didn’t make the invite list to Cannes this year, TikTok’s got you covered.

Read more from The Drum’s latest Deep Dive over at our Digital Advertising hub.

TikTok Business Leadership Momentum

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Momentum Worldwide

Momentum Worldwide has a proud history of creating industry-first experiences that authentically place brands in the cultural conversation. 1,000+ individuals across...

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